Kinderhook growth driven by new restaurants, retail, art


On a weekday morning earlier this month in Kinderhook, as the peaceful late summer air was disturbed by the regular rumble of farm and construction trucks passing through the village green, two scenes representative of the village today played out across the street.

The scenes were their own way of illustrating the transformation of this 1 square mile Columbia County village, which in recent years has been a quiet residential community still deeply connected to a past centered on agriculture. An influx of new people, some spurred by pandemic-related relocations, are opening retail, food service and arts businesses.

In a typical moment, a couple of gray-haired guys sat at a table outside the 10-year-old Broad Street Bagel Co., discussing how to do an electrical job at a nearby farm. Across Broad Street, a mustache-wearing young hipster waited outside the pandemic-stricken Bones Barbershop, where appointments with the tattooed nostriled owner are booked a month in advance, partly because a throng of local teenage girls now won’t let anyone their hair cut.

Within sight of both scenes, in a corner of the village green, stood a statue of Martin Van Buren, the most famous native of this Route 9 village, about 20 miles southeast of Albany and 13 miles north of Hudson. Born in a demolished house in the village proper, Van Buren bought the Lindenwald estate, 2 miles outside of town, as his home for the last two decades of his life, following his tenure as the eighth US President. Lindenwald was privately owned until 1974 when it became a National Historic Site. The Van Buren statue shows him seated, holding a stick in one hand and papers in the other, his mutton chops almost as big as the fur collar of his coat.

To the left of the statue, south on Broad Street/Route 9, is a row of historic Revolutionary War homes; Across from them is a 1930’s Colonial-style building that once taught grades K through 12, but today The School is a 30,000-square-foot art gallery that’s the northern outpost of Manhattan’s Jack Shainman Gallery, known for its promotion of contemporary art visual artist is famous. As an example of the mounting pain between old and new that a rural village of 1,400 people experiences when its identity changes, Kinderhook officials and The School fought for months in late 2020 and early 2021 over the gallery’s Racial and Social Justice Campaign. titled “States of Being,” which featured the words “Truth Be Told” in letters more than 20 feet tall, spanning the building’s 160-foot-wide facade. After the village insisted that the installation was a sign illegal under zoning regulations, the village eventually concluded that it was in fact art and therefore acceptable — a decision that came two days after the scheduled one dismantling of the piece was taken.

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To the right of the Martin Van Buren statue, around the corner on Hudson Street and overlooking the village green, is the Kinderhook Knitting Mill, also a product of the pandemic, which takes its name from a textile mill that occupied an area of 17,000 square meters was operated building complex from the 1870s. Led by two business partners — visual artist Darren Waterston, once dubbed America’s most mimicked contemporary painter, and New York restaurateur/entrepreneur Yen Ngo — the Kinderook Knitting Mill, or KKM for short, is less than 2000 Years ago, a year in operation emerged, the most visible example of the development of Kinderhook.

Within the complex, Waterston and Ngo own a stylish coffee shop called Morningbird and a strikingly designed restaurant called The Aviary, which offers menus with Dutch and Indonesian influences for dinner three nights a week and Sunday brunch. KKM tenants already open include OK Pantry, which sells esoteric collectibles, housewares, gourmet foods and herbal beverages; September Gallery, published by Hudson to be part of the KKM project; Kinderhook Bottle Shop, a liquor store ruthlessly curated with its selection of wines and spirits so as not to be mainstream, owned by New York transplants; and 2 Note, a body products dispensary run by two musicians who mix and bottle their products (perfumes, a skincare line, bath products, insect repellent) by hand and decorate their store with musical instruments and blasting notes by Bach. Coming soon will be a second floor bookstore currently functioning as a gallery promoting reproductive justice and a showcase for Damsel Garden, a Columbia County flower grower that already has a busy online presence for flower shares and subscriptions .

Several of the KKM businesses moved away from Hudson, with owners saying they were attracted by lower rents but mostly by the vision of a collaborative community of creative entrepreneurs attracted to Ngo and Waterston.

“We’re here for Darren,” said Darcy Doniger, who owns Mix 2 Note with her wife Carolyn. They founded the company 16 years ago in Portland, Maine, then ran it in Hudson for six years before going virtual for two years during the pandemic.

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“It’s amazing to see what they’re doing there,” said Patrick Kenny, who in 2019 founded Saisonnier, a bar and shop across from Village Hall that specializes in Belgian beers, craft local beers and quality cheeses. To learn about the restaurant business, Waterston apprenticed with Saisonnier, although Kenny laughed and said the painter never quite understood that the fashionable attire he showed up in would suffer when he worked in the kitchen.

Waterston, who lived in Northern California years ago and has long lived in New York City, moved upstate in 2018 after finding a Kinderhook home with space for a painting studio. He credits the success of Saisonnier and The School for giving him and Ngo the confidence to undertake the KKM project.

The aviary, 4 Hudson St. theaviarykinderhook.com. The restaurant serves dinner Thursday through Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.; Brunch is served on Sundays from 11:00am to 3:00pm in the adjacent Morningbird Cafe.

bone barber, 10 Broad St. 518-758-1279 and instagram.com/bonesbarbershopny. Open Tuesday to Saturday from 9 a.m.

Broad Street Bagel Co., 1 Broad St. 518-758-8084 and broadstreetbagelco.com. Monday to Thursday 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., Friday and Saturday 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Martin Van Buren National Historic Site in Lindenwald, 1013 Alte Poststrasse. 758-9689 ext. 2040 and nps.gov/mava. The park grounds are open daily, year-round, from 7:00 a.m. to sunset; Visitor center open and multiple house tours available Thursday through Tuesday through October 1st. See website for opening times and off-season programs.

morning bird, 4 Hudson St. theaviarykinderhook.com/morningbird. Café service Thursday to Sunday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

seasonal workers, 11 Chatham St. 518-610-8100 and saisonnier.us. Beer shop and bar from Thursday to Monday from 11:30 am.

Samascott Orchards, 5 Sunset Ave. 518-758-7224 and samacottorchards.com. Pick your own apples and other seasonal produce, Wednesday to Monday, 9am to 5pm (last entry at 4pm).

Garden market of Samascott, 65 Chatham St. 518-758-9292 and samascott.com/market. Store, daily 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. (ice window until 8 p.m.); Corn maze, entry from 11:00am to 4:00pm on weekends in September and October and Columbus Day (Monday 10th October).


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“I couldn’t imagine not being in New York (City). I think that’s how it is for a lot of people who live there, but then when you go, you can’t believe what you find,” Waterston said. “It was an incredible awakening and discovery of a sense of community. Everyone has been so supportive.”

Mike Abrams, who joined Kinderhook seven years ago, founded and directs a nonprofit organization that helps military veterans transition into civilian life. Abrams, who has been on the village council for a number of years and mayor since April, said: “It’s exciting to see all the growth and I’m proud to say we’re handling it well.”

As the retail sector grows and visitors increase, Abrams helps guide the village towards major infrastructure improvements, including the replacement of century-old water mains under Albany Avenue. More visible will be the remodeling of a section of Albany Avenue, leading into the city past Van Buren’s gravesite at Kinderhook Reformed Church Cemetery and terminating in the heart of the village at Route 9. A government grant will pay for a new road, sidewalks, drainage and landscaping. The price was $1.8 million, about 50 percent more than the village’s entire annual budget.

“It was a real ‘Holy smokes!’ Wait a minute,” Abrams said of the grant notification.

A few buildings south of the corner of Albany Avenue and Broad Street is Bones Barbershop, founded in December 2020 by 26-year-old owner and Hudson native Jordan Bonetsky. Another escapee from Hudson’s rents, Bonetsky envisioned an old-school barber shop with a cool, contemporary vibe, hinted at by a logo of a white frog skeleton against a black background and equipment, including wool hats bearing the logo.

Bonetsky wasn’t expecting so many high school girls as customers, but he’s excited about their business — so much, he says, that “I almost regret putting ‘barbershop’ in the name. We do so much more than that.” Open nine or 10 hours a day four days a week and six hours on Saturdays, when the busy farmers’ market draws crowds to the village green across the street, Bones’ employees have his owner and two others Hairdressers are struggling to keep up with demand. Bonetsky’s dark hair flows below his collar, the waves often being stemmed by a backward-facing trucker hat.

“I don’t have time to cut it,” he said. “It was short when I first opened the store.”





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